On iterative innovation

The Romans were late comers when it came to waging war at sea, and the rival Carthaginian dominion of the Mediterranean trade routes was based on their naval power which was clearly superior to that of Rome.

As luck would have it, a Carthaginian quinquireme ran aground as it tried to blockade the Romans who were trying to ferry across to Sicily in borrowed boats. Once caught, this enemy ship is supposed to have provided the Romans with the prototype they needed. In fact the build of the ship was so structured (numbered pieces)  – for the Romans it was almost like putting together a piece of flatpack furniture. As a result the Romans were easily able to copy and reproduce the warship and set their sights on the seas.

But war at sea requires far more than simply the tools, the method for defeating the enemy involved ramming the enemy ship which in itself required a great deal of skill and experience from the crew.

The Romans didn’t have these skills but instead modified the design to allow for the battering element to become a bridge – to allow their troops to quickly gain access to the enemy ship and effectively take part in a land based style battle (something they were much better at). The rest as they say is history.

So let’s remember not to re-invent the wheel, but instead build on others success, but at the same time if we want to be truly successful we must add to the solution with something that’s new – something which might just change the entire game.

So I will be asking on my next project – what am I doing that is new and innovative to build on those great foundations provided by others. If I’m not – I’m probably likely to lose the larger battle.